The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Friday, September 26, 2014

Just Opened - September 26, 2014 - Europe and the World

France, Italy, Wales, and the Austro-German empire are the regions.  Baroque, Classical, early Romantic and Modern are the time periods.  The flavors come from the home countries and from travel, as each of the composers and performers have traveled widely, and let their music be infused with the tastes and styles of other countries near and far.

Anima Concordia
ENZO Recordings
ISBN # 4 571232 870229
Official Website of Anima Concordia
Jean-Marie Leclair's 2 sets of sonatas for 2 violins have been receiving new attention as musicians look for new ways to incorporate music in the community.  Hailed as one of the premier composers for strings of his day, these works are considered the zenith of symmetry, intimacy and solidarity.  Leclair was exceptionally well traveled for his day, having studied Italian works, and then studying in Turin, and later traveling to England and Germany.  It is thought that these works may have been initially intended for performance by Leclair himslef, joined by the great Pietro Locaterri.  This husband and wife team both graduated from the Royal Conservatory at the Hague, and have performed with several international groups including "Le Petit Bande" and Bach Collegium Japan.
Igor Kamenz, piano
Naïve 5399
ISBN # 8 22186 05399 7
Official Website of Igor Kamenz
This CD is nationally released on Sept. 30, 2014.  To give you an idea of the international stature of Igor Kamenz, this past August he played two solo concerts at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in advance of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and Joshua Bell.  He first conducted a major orchestra at the age of 7, followed by a series of concerts where he was piano soloist and conductor, all before the age of 10.  Recently I've been saying, "Just BUY THE CD."  Not only are the artist paybacks on downloads notoriously small, but here we have another fine example of a program that - while it can be appreciate in bits - was created to form a whole program that forms a dramatic narrative.  Out of Scarlatti's mind-boggling 555 sonatas, Kamenz has chosen these, and ordered them to form a complete program that should be listened to in full to better understand his artistic intent.

Karl Jenkins
EMI 235
ISBN # 5 099950 023523
Official Website of Karl Jenkins
My delight of the week!  Welsh composer Karl Jenkins infuses his concert works with international influences from the east, a desire to invent, with a grounding in traditional Romantic era European folk songs.  The mix created is very accessible, playful and spicey.   The wide variety of his works on this CD make for a fascinating and varied program.  It will be no surprise that I purchased this CD for the double harp concerto (both parts performed here by Catrin Finch), but each of these works presents a complete different musical "room."  A work for 2 flutes, piano and percussion, where - in the second movement - the piano strings are plucked to evoke a sitar, a traditional baroque theme and variations reimagined for marimba, and a Violin concerto that one moment evokes ancient Persia, then takes us through Russian folk song.   It will also be no surprise listening to his music that part of his musical background is jazz-rock, and all of these influences blend beautifully to create music that is surprising, fresh, and the kind of thing that makes you think, "I want to hear that again."  This is the kind of concert music that is a great introduction to symphonic music for those who think they "don't like classical music."

Three Great Sonatas
Roberto McCausland Dieppa, piano
Scruffy Records 020567658
ISBN # 8 88295 10573 6
Official Website of Roberto McCausland Dieppa
Columbia born pianist Dieppa rose to prominence as a classical pianist, winning the Merrill-Lynch prize in 2002, and in 2006 winning the Pro-Arte Hungarica prize for performances of Liszt and Bartok, leading to work with Henry Kissenger for the United Nations to celebrate the 50th anniversay of the Hungarian revolution on 1956.  His work as conductor and composer have broadened to classical fusion, as well as a focus on the music of his native country, and his own works infused with a multi-continental muse.   Here he returns to basic works of Beethoven, given his own unique style and energy.  From the structure of the CD you see his acknowledgement of current listening patterns, where each movement of complete works is listed separately.  It is an acceptance that today's listener may just listen to one particular movement, then move on.

Thanks again to Stephanie Clark, our S.U. practicum, for pulling together the CD pictures, websites, and basic information to help you find out more about the works that pique your interest.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, September 19, 2014

Just Opened - September 19, 2014

A girl choir, an under-appreciated female composer, fresh takes on early & baroque works, challenging new works for euphonium, and timeless lush film music.  It's ALL in the mix today, Just Opened.

Music from Lent to Easter
The St. Cecilia Choir of Girls
MSR 1426
ISBN # 6 81585 14262 2
Official Website of The St. Cecilia Choir of Girls
Here at S.U. we are having two performances of boy choirs this fall.  This CD (intended for spring of the religious year) shows the magnificent potential of girl choirs, an under-tapped musical resource.
Piano Music of Cecile Chaminade
Joanne Polk
ISBN # 0 34062 30037 2
Official Website of Steinway & Sons
Joanne Polk's Profile Page on Steinway & Sons
My Delight of the Week.  Chaminade's works continue to be marvelous revelations, especially in the hands of a virtuoso like Polk.  She has dedicated a significant part of her playing career to shedding performance light on the works of female musicians.  Chaminade's works, so often dimissed as merely decorative or charming, are shown here to have depth, and incredible technical demands within the beauty.  For anyone who loves great piano music.

Harmonious Blacksmith
ISBN # 8 88295 11270 3
Official Website of Harmonious Blacksmith
An "original instrument" group that goes back to original texts, compares historical texts by other performers of the original, adept at historically correct improvisation, and current compositions and improvisations.  They bring this vibrant mix into the performance of historic works and new works bringing excitement to the table.

Brian Meixner, Euphonium
Nathan Daughtry, Percussion
PM 1030
ISBN # 6 70541 35958 7
Official Website of Brian Meixner
New works, on the challenging side, for euphonium, percussion, and marimba on a few, too.  Two works we feature have the restraint and meditative quality of new age works.  Others will be for those who are really tuned into the world of new chamber works.

The Classic Film Music of Jerome Moross
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
SILVA SCREEN 6030 - 2 CD set
ISBN # 7 38572 60302 1
The City of Prague Philharmonic Official Website
More lush, wide open orchestra scores that helped define the era of the magnificent film scores.

Thanks again to Stephanie Clark, our S.U. practicum, for pulling together visuals and details to help you find the CD information you want from today's Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, September 12, 2014

Just Opened - September 12, 2014 - American Music-Makers

America is filled with, and has inspired great music-making through the centuries.   Today we have a musical cross section, from early "anti-colonial" music to jazz infused film and pop favorites in lush interpretations, to great European works interpreted by American artisits.

MM 236
ISBN # 0 95182 02362 6
Official Website of HESPERUS
This weekend there is a big celebration of the Star Spangled Banner going on at Ft. McHenry.   So on Just Opened today we continue our musical exploration of early American Music, opening a CD by Hesperus Early Music Ensemble of music of the civil war.  A mixture of the influences of European roots with parlor music and appalachian fiddle - the wide range of musical influences that existed in the colonies.

Amy Dickson, saxophone
SONY 88843040412
ISBN # 8 88430 40412 0
Official Website of Amy Dickson
Australian beauty Dickson has playing that matches her looks, crisp clean, and easy on the ear.  Like many current young artisits, she has made a mark for herself playing traditional concert works, and also popular works.  For her playing with orchestras in more traditional concert repertoire, look for her other CDs.  This CD has American pop and film music favorites in arrangements that recall their glory days, and that also give them fresh flavor, esp. the samba infused version of the jazz standard "Take Five."  Definitely not for the hard core classical purist, but a little something for your down-time, or your next casual party.

Gilbert Kalish, piano
Works by Hayden, Beethoven, & Schubert
ISBN # 0 90404 94282 2
Gilbert Kalish Profile Page, 
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
My Delight of the Week.  A native New Yorker, and pianist with the Boston Symphony Players for 30 years, Gilbert brings solid mastery and keen musicianship to these works.  I'm particularly fond of Beethoven's Bagatelles, which can be overlooked by great artists because of their light nature - but that is exactly what makes them classical "easy listening."

The American String Project
MSR 1522
ISBN # 6 81585 15222 5
Official Website of The American String Project
 The unique "conductorless string orchestra" continues to offer great annual musical treats.  Major works by Tchaikovsky & Haydn, with encores of Grieg, Brahms and Shostakovich.

Special thanks to our SU Practicum Stephanie Clark, for her help pulling together the photos and info. on these CD to make your info. search easier.
Kara Dahl Russell 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Just Opened - September 5, 2014

Our usual mix of old & new, traditional and unusual.

Leon Fleisher, piano
ISBN # 0 90404 94292 1
Fleisher's first solo disc in nearly a decade, released in time to celebrate his 86th birthday.  Fleisher famously lost the use of two fingers on his right hand and rose to the occaission by re-defining his repertoire with works for the left hand alone.  Most of these works are for the left hand alone, spanning new works like Perle's "Musical Offering" and his own "L.H.", and arrangements of crowd pleasing favorites by Gershwin and Kern.

Concert works of Jerome Moross
TROY 1400
ISBN # 0 34061 14002 3
Official Website of Jerome Moross
We continue the celebration of the 101st anniversary of Moross's birth with more of his concert works.  The Ballet "Frankie & Johnny," based on the song ballad remains as camp today as it was upon its inception, and is probably the weakest of this collection.  His "Beguine" and "A Tall Story for Orchestra" are topped by a surprisingly infectious finale, his "Concerto for Flute and String Orchestra" which gets better and better with each listening.

Danny Helseth, euphonium
Molly D. Orlando, piano
Potenza Music 1003
ISBN # 7 57783 00702 2
Official Website of Danny Helseth
New works for Euphonium.  Mostly works for euphonium and piano, but a few include chamber ensemble as well.  Many of our listeners will find this a challenge, but there are melodic works here, and the rarity of new works that feature euphonium give this CD an innate appeal.

The Cello Sonatas
John Whitfield, violoncello
James Winn, piano
MSR 1516
ISBN # 6 81585 15162 4
My Delight of the Week!
Whitfield and Winn, both highly lauded and accomplished, are separated by generations, but play as one on these historic works.

Special thanks to our S.U. practicum Stephanie Clark for her work pulling together the photos and information on today's CD selections.  Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, August 29, 2014

Just Opened - August 29, 2014 - Concertizing Hollywood

We continue our celebration (from August) of the 101st birthday of Jerome Moross with a trio of composers, contemporaries, who were all famous for their work in Hollywood, and in the Concert Hall... "Concertizing Hollywood."

The Classic Film Music of Jerome Moross
The City of Prauge Philarmonic
Paul Bateman, cond.
ISBN # 5 014929 016122
Official Website of Jerome Moross
My Delight of the Week!  This cross-section selection of film music by Jerry Moross displays his particular gift for expressing wide open spaces of coutryside or the sea.  The syncopated, jazzy feel of the big river in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Suite) are laconic and lyric, and make it easy to see why his work has remained so popular.  His Romanze from "Five Finger Exercise" - a melodramatic potboiler that bombed both from controversial themes and post production PR cutting - has nevertheless remained a work that stands on it's own.  "Wagon Train," "The Valley of Gwangi," and "Rachel, Rachel" are film music scores that have become part of history, and remain highly infectious and listenable.

The Texas Music Festival Chamber Ensemble
TROY 301
ISBN # 0 34061 03012 6
Official Website of The Bernard Herrmann Society
Herrmann and Moross were contemporaries and friends at Conservatory, and then both went on to fame writing Hollywood film scores, while reserving their deepest ambitions for the concert hall.
This CD features chamber music of both, including (arguably) the best known chamber work of Hermann, his "Souvenir de Voyage" which shares thematic sensibility with his famously haunting score for "Vertigo."  Jeffrey Lerner is the featured clarinetist on that piece, and his playing is luscious and melting.  Herrmann's more adventuresome "Echos" closes the CD. The central work is Moross's Sonata for piano and quartet which displays his ability to create melodies that immediately sound like ages-old familiar folk tunes, then bounce them around amongst the players like a rubber ball.  Great musical fun.

Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra
Joshua Pierce
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Kirk Trevor, cond.
MSR 1265
ISBN # 6 81585 1265 23
Official Website of Joshua Pierce
Official Website of George Gershwin
We had only played one cut from this CD today when we received a phone call about what a magnificent performance it was (referring to the Concerto in F)!   This CD of Gershwin works for piano and orchestra is sure to please, with the always top-notch playing of pianist Joshua Pierce, who has been a long term favorite here on WSCL.

A special thank you to Stephanie Clark, our S.U. practicum student this fall, for pulling together the photos, links, and CD information for this blogpost.  Join us next week for more great music, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Just Opened - August 22, 2014 - Women Looking Both Ways

Today on Just Opened, we focus again on female artists, performer musicians who also arrange and compose.  Women who both perform historical works, and also bring music right up to the present moment.

Music of Barbara Harbach
Kirk Trevor, cond.
London Philharmonic Orchestra
MSR 1519
ISBN# 6 81585 15192 1
A variety of works for orchestra can be heard on this CD.  Several are inspired by places and regions of America, and have a melodicism that makes these works much more accessible than some of the more challenging or intellectual works of Harbach.  This is an easy pick to add some contemporary compositions to your musical collection, tuneful works by a highly respected working female composer.

Barbara Harbach, organ
MSR 1442 - 2CD set
ISBN# 6 81585 14422 0
The other side of Harbach's career - as a performer and interpreter of great historic works.  This 2 CD set displays her love of the foundational composers, and her technical proficiency on, and commitment to some of the most daunting repertoire.
Kim Robertson, celtic harp
Gourd Music 140
ISBN# 0 9016 70140 2 6
Robertson is arguably one of the best known harpists in the world, precisely because she has focused on music with a cross-over appeal.  Her music appeals to historical early music purists, the folk music audience, and classical music listeners who appreciate the wide variety of technique, training, and musicality that Robertson brings to "the table" (pun intended... "le table" being a term for the harp's soundboard).  She has been established on WSCL for many years before I came on board. This CD includes works from historically seminal volumes, Playford's "The English Dancing Master" and "Sharpe's Ballad Book."   She has a particular gift for mentally and musically cross-referencing works like these with folk melodies and blending them into engaging arrangements that sound both historically "right" and absolutely current.  Having had the good fortune to have been coached by her myself, I know first hand her ability to break things down to essentials, and to take the focus in varied directions while working toward a musical goal.  Aside from the musical knowledge (she studied classical piano and harp) and love she brings to the works we hear on this CD, Robertson is known for her own exquisite arrangements and compositions, her music collections and  pedagogy, her teaching and coaching, and her irrepressible enthusiasm for making traditional music relevant and heartfelt.  If you enjoy exploring traditional and historical music without the dusty cloud, this and other CDs by Robertson are easy favorites.

Laurel Zucker, flute (& composer)
With strings, winds & piano
ISBN# 8 84501 96163 9
My Delight of the Week.  Zucker has been a regular on our playlists for many many years.  She has an impressive, prolific recording output (close to 40 CDs) and on-going concert career.  Early on in her career, she began to be compared to the greats and has continued that tradition of excellence.  She seems to have chosen to focus largely on chamber works, and her own productions and recordings.  These led naturally to her own compositions, and here we have a beautiful mix of chamber works - for winds, for strings, for piano & flute duo.   Some are progressively modern, and many others tunefully inspired by folk music and regions of America.

Love Poems of Pablo Neruda
Ute Lemper, vocalist & composer
with Marcelo Nisinman
ISBN# 0 34062 30020 4
Lemper and Friends give rhythm and musical spice to the love poems of Neruda.  Lemper's voice and musical stylings are not the norm for our "classical/orchestral" focus here on WSCL, but worth visiting, as she has cut such an indelible mark in her trade-mark performances.  Renowned A-list cabaret performer Lemper is known to lovers of great music, theatre and art world wide.

Join us next week for more new releases of great music, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Just Opened, August 15th - The Boys of Summer

Earlier this summer we featured female artists for "The Girls of Summer," so we turn-about with a program today featuring conductors & performers who - still today in these times of "diversity" -  happen to be the primary population of orchestras:  men.

Milos Karadaglic, guitar
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Yannick Nezet Seguin, cond.
D.G. 20039
ISBN# 0 28948 10652 3
Karadaglic seems to be "the anointed one" in a line of prestiqious guitarists destined for great things in the music world.  All ready acclaimed and performing internationally at a young age, with the looks of a movie star (or pop idol), he could easily follow in the star-studded footsteps (or should I say "fret markings") of such greats as Segovia and Williams, if not Leo Brower and Marin Alsop.  Having released two (mostly) solo releases last year, he turns his attention now to some of the most beloved repertoire for guitar and orchestra, with his "back up band" being one of the world's finest orchestras.  Works like these are the easy, natural pick to "painlessly" introduce concert music to folks who think they "don't like classical music."  They are all ready so much a part of the larger media culture that they are basically familiar to almost everyone.  Keep it in mind for holiday gift-giving, and in the larger scheme, keep an eye on the all ready meteoric career of Milos K.

John Axelrod, cond. & pianist
Orchestra Sinfonico Di Milano Guisepe Verdi
Wolfgang Holzmair, baritone
Dame Felicity Lott, soprano
TELARC 34659 (2 CD set)
ISBN# 8 88072 34659 8
I think time will look back on these days of great music as the day of "the package" and interesting programmatic combinations being as important as the music itself, making this set a representative of today's concert zeitgeist, and so - My Delight of the Week.  This is the second offering in this inventively constructed set that pairs the major orchestral works of Brahms with art songs of his "Immortal Beloved," Clara Wieck Schumann.  The Symphonies featured here are Numbers one and two, and this time the singers are established, big name, mature performers who bring all their gifts to the table.

Torsten Juul-Borre, piano
Self Published Release
ISBN #7 00261 30356 7
For information and purchase
CD available through CDBaby and other online sources.
Many American pianists say they have been trained in the European tradition, usually tracing a line a teachers back to Europe.  Juul-Borre is one who actually studied in Europe (Denmark) in an extensive 7 year program focused not only on piano, but also organ.  For centuries, some have said that playing organ can ruin your "touch" at the piano.  Fortunately for us, Juul-Barre has defeated the odds, and is known for incredible sensitivity of phrasing and tone, as evidenced in the attached review:  Review of "To Spring"  Juul-Borre has a true world-wide carreer, with an extensive concert career in Denmark and here in the states as well.  While this CD includes the little known Piano Sonata of Frederic Balazs (in a performance that drew appreciative raves from the composer himself), the rest of the program is made up of recognizable, beloved works from the Romantic and late Romantic era - familiar enough to please -  in artistically literate performance.

Join us next Friday for more new releases, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell


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